This bespectacled, demon-faced “Horned Helmet” was presented to Henry VIII by the Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I in 1514 (along, tragically, with the rest of a now-lost suit of armor).
It was made by Austrian goldsmith Konrad Seusenhofer, a leading armor manufacturer of the 16-th century. The Horned helmet is technically called an armet, with protection for the skull, hinged cheek pieces, and a face defence. An armet is a type of helmet which was developed in the 15-th century. It was extensively used in Italy, France, England, the Low Countries and Spain.
It was distinguished by being the first helmet of its era to completely enclose the head while being compact and light enough to move with the wearer. Its use was essentially restricted to the fully armored man-at-arms.
Originally, the helmet had silver-gilt panels placed over rich, velvet cloth. The glasses were implemented because Henry VIII was actually nearsighted, a theory supplemented by the fact that there were dozens of glasses in his possession after his death. It was made for use in pageants rather than for combat. Henry VIII might have worn it at sumptuous events such as the parades that accompanied tournaments.
After Henry’s death in 1547, his court jester, Will Somers, apparently took over possession of it and most likely incorporated it in his act.
The helmet is now a prized possession of the Royal Armouries, Leeds.